Working on your mental health can be a challenge. You may be suffering from serious mental health issues or you may just be feeling like you’re in a bit of a slump that you can’t get out of. Either way, there are so many ways that we can take care of ourselves to help get us into a better place. I’m not talking run a hot bath and watch something on Amazon Prime Video. I mean, things with more substance that are simple, but can have a lasting impact on our mental health and in our lives.
1) Allow yourself to feel
There are so many times that we seem to punish ourselves for what we are feeling. We can’t allow ourselves to be sad, or we can’t allow ourselves to be angry at a situation. Allowing yourself to feel can be so liberating, and on top of that it’s necessary. We are given a range of emotions for a reason, as all of our emotions are useful. If you feel fear when trying to cross a busy street, you will probably be on high alert and vigilant when you do so. So if you invalidate fear, then you may not be able to recognise it and use it when you need to.
It’s usually others that invalidate our emotions, but we can fall into the trap of doing it ourselves. Validating your feelings allows you to feel more connected to others and to know how to properly and effectively manage each of those emotions. In turn improving your communication skills to equip you to solve your problems.
2) Live in the moment
Allowing yourself feel your emotions can range from what we just discussed to allowing yourself to truly live in the moment. Many of us have a love/hate relationship with social media. It can be a powerful and positive tool, but it could also keep us distracted from our daily lives and in a constant fear of missing out.
Focus on truly trying to enjoy your life.
Yes, that’s a big statement. But hear me out.
If you break down things into days, you can focus on what each day brings and not worry about tomorrow. Now, I’m talking about all the little moments that make up your day, not longer term goals or even your obligations.
When I say live in the moment I mean be mindful of what you are doing in each moment. I know that’s a bit of a stretch, but start with making a morning routine ritual for example. If you have to commute to work listen to a podcast on the bus, or make breakfast every morning and make it a point to think about your state of mind and pan out your day. These small moments can help us train ourselves to not be absentmindlessly multitasking for the sake of multitasking and do what many of us are forgetting to do more and more, think.
3) Ask for help
This one can be a biggie, as many people are still blinded by the social stigma of mental health and mental illness and many times we don’t reach out for help when we need it. Mental health services are so readily available nowadays that you can easily reach out to people for help. Speaking to a professional doesn’t have to be an anxiety inducing thing, as you can even book sessions online or by phone. Which is great if you suffer from anxiety and even the thought of seeing a therapist or counsellor has put you off getting help.
On the other hand, you can see someone in person if you need a more personable approach. There is so much flexiblity nowadays, and we should truly take advantage of all the resources out there and the specialists who are there to help us.
I think, and can personally advocate for therapy and counselling (though there are different approaches and you need to find what works for you), that sometimes you know there is a problem that needs addressing, but you may not know where to start, or even what it is. This is why even reaching out is a great step as a professional can help you get started. Your journey may be long or short, but knowing you are on the right path for you is truly an invaluable resource.
4) Establish daily habits and routines
With work and family commitments always looming around the corner you may feel that you don’t have the time to establish routines. Or worse yet, you just don’t feel that you have the discipline or energy to do so, but hear me out. They. Are. Life. Changing.
This is coming from someone who embraced chaos and thought the “go with the flow attitude” was just me being so cool and spontaneous. Wrong. The chaos kept me under a strain of anxiety, and finally adopting routines in life has helped with my discipline and has been one of the best self-care methods I have adopted.
Here are some simple daily habits and routines to have. Trust me, I have adopted them all into my life after a lifetime of being undisciplined and they have made a huge difference to my life. If you already do this, good for you! We all grow at different paces so there is definitely no judgement here.
Daily habits to incorporate into your life:
- Set an alarm and wake up at the same time everyday,
- Get enough sleep,
- Eat at meal times and have set meal times,
- Exercise, even if it’s only a 30 minute walk or dancing in your living room,
- Be mindful of what you eat and how each food affects your body and mood,
- Do something for your mind each day that stimulates you. It can be listening to a podcast that gets you thinking critically, or reading a non-fiction book,
- Connect with other, this can be in person, text, or on the phone (commenting on strangers’ social media accounts doesn’t really count),
- Only surround yourself with people who are good for you,
- Sit with yourself, your thoughts, your feelings, and enjoy the time you spend with you, and, lastly,
- Do something that brings you joy. For example, I listen to YouTube videos in the background when I work, and these educational and sometimes entertaining videos always make me feel comfort no matter what my starting mood was. This helps me relax and work more productively and feel joy.
There are so many things we can do for our mental health and these 4 ways to improve your mental health can help you if you put them into practice. Of course, I am not medical professional and these tips are just part of my personal experiences working on myself and my mental health throughout my life here on earth. We are all on different journeys and at different stages in our lives, but these tips are useful for most if not all of us. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis do reach out to mental health professionals.